Northern Lights IPA - Starr Hill Brewery

Not Rated.
Northern Lights IPANorthern Lights IPA

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839 Ratings
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Ratings: 839
Reviews: 245
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 13.76%
Wants: 13
Gots: 115 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: OldFrothingSlosh on 09-19-2004

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 839 | Reviews: 245
Photo of fishguyac
2.63/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Good beer. Just a little too hoppy for my taste.

Photo of Winfred
4.12/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice overall floral taste. Good balance of hops.

Photo of WineGuy3000
4.13/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a solo cup.

A: Brilliant, clear copper/caramel with 1/2" of off-white head. Retention is OK, lacing is nice.

S: Straightforward & mellow, some pine, floral notes, cereal, just a touch of citrus.

T: Resinous hops on a bed of flowers. Some more pine (not much), lemon peel, grass, graham cracker. The more you hunt, the more depth of flavor reveals itself. Almost a peppery hop-bitter punch on the finish.

M: Oily & slick, medium carb with a burly malt body. Super-drinkable.

O: This is just flat-out one of my favorite IPAs on the market anywhere. This brew has deep flavors, a solid hop-kick & major quaffability. I'll take the Pepsi challenge with this IPA v.s. almost any other on the market right now.

Photo of John_Beeryman
3.38/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A good, standard IPA, good for sessioning.

Photo of Davepoolesque
2.93/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Smells like the cannabis. It could just be skunked. Taste is on the lighter side.

Photo of llenroc11
4.4/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

This is a great beer!

Photo of KChristie87
3.06/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Not the best IPA I've had. Has a lager taste and feel. No overwhelming smell either. Mediocre at best.

Photo of 700Sunil
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I like this brewery. This ipa had a tough act to follow a draft black IPA. A little harsher than from what I remember from Starr Hill.

Photo of DMan80
5/5  rDev +40.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a great IPA for the price, some harsh reviews here but I still love this beer

Photo of Pantalones
3.47/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Second bottle of this one from the Starr Hill Loadout variety pack; bottling date is December 15th, 2014.

It's a dark golden color, pretty clear, with lots of little bubbles rising up at first (though they eventually stop, only briefly returning if the beer is swirled around a bit.) Nice white fluffy head on top at first, which gradually fades until there's just a bit on the surface, leaving significant trails behind on the glass as it goes. I suppose this is what other reviews refer to as "lacing," as there is indeed a lacy sort of pattern going on.

Smell is piney, with a little bit of something else I can't quite identify and occasionally hints of grain--grain becomes more noticeable and pine less so as the beer warms. Not as strong as I was expecting of an IPA, based on my limited experience with the style; actually the smell here might be fainter than the Grateful Pale Ale in the same pack, as I need to put my nose right near the glass to pick much up (rather than being able to smell the piney, citrusy hops from several inches above like with the pale ale.)

Taste is similar to the smell. Piney hops, a hint of something maybe closer to "leafy" or "grassy" every now and then (more noticeable after the beer has warmed slightly), and occasional bits of bready and lightly toasty malt. Oh, and bitterness. Just plain bitterness. The amount of actual hoppy flavor doesn't seem to match the amount of bitterness going on here--it's not super bitter, but it almost seems like there's more "just bitter" than there is hop flavor, which is really odd. Thankfully, that "leafy/grassy" sort of flavor seems to blend with the "pure bitterness" taste a bit more as the beer warms, which is an improvement... but it's still really odd that this beer has that much extra bitterness without a matching increase in hop flavor. And then, as if sensing my complaints as I type them, the last drink in the glass was all pine and toastyness with only a little bitterness... weird.

Mouthfeel is not bad in any way, but not amazing. Doesn't have that interesting "fizzy but it works" thing I noticed in Ranger, but it doesn't feel too watery or light or have any other really negative qualities either.

Overall, while this isn't *bad* by any means it's also definitely my least-favorite from the Loadout variety pack. While the Grateful pale ale grew on me quite a bit between my first and second glass, my opinion on this one hasn't shifted much (though letting the beer warm a bit so that "leaf/grass" sort of flavor began to blend in with the bitter and more of the toasty grain sort of flavor came out was a slight improvement over drinking it right out of the fridge.) I won't have trouble finishing my last bottle of this one, but I'd still rather just have another bottle of the pale ale instead.

EDIT: Bumped up my score for taste just a tad after having the last bottle of the six-pack and enjoying it noticeably more than the previous two.

Photo of StonewallSipper
3.32/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Good IPA, tasety , not great

Photo of uvachief
3.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured 2 12 oz bottles into a room temperature glass boot. Full 3 fingers of head that lingered with lacing. Traditional golden brown IPA color. Not much on the smell side other than hops and a little pine. Citrus in the tongue probably a mix of lemon and orange. Subtle pine with no metallic bite back like your other IPAs. Very mellow and smooth. Like it a lot.

Photo of JodyPowers
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Great first impression.

Photo of bmeehan
2/5  rDev -43.8%


Photo of jacksdad
4/5  rDev +12.4%

One of those IPAs that you could drink all night long with a nice crisp hoppy finish you would expect.

Photo of rjs246
3.25/5  rDev -8.7%

I like, but don't love this IPA. A totally drinkable hop blast, but the Grateful Pale Ale is a better beer.

Photo of Zach136
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 4/29 Reviewed live.

A - Deep orange, thin white head.

S - Faint notes of citrus and grass. Actually having to really get my nose in there to discern.

T - Light hop flavors of grass, pine, a citrus peel. Fairly astringent.

M - Medium bodied, refreshing finish.

O - Nothing particularly wrong with the beer, but far from being intense enough to be a go-to American IPA.

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.57/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 5/21/14 at 40 degrees into standard pint glass
Aroma of conifers
Head large (6 cm), off white, frothy, slowly diminishing to 6 to 10 mm uneven layer
Lacing OK, some medium islands and stalactites of various size bubbles
Body light orange, clear
Flavor begins very piney, short lived, leaving a bitter aftertaste, also short lived
Palate medium, watery, soft carbonation

Not a bad IPA.

Photo of dacrza1
3.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE REVIEWED: July 17, 2014... GLASSWARE: Maudite snifter... OCCASION: the end of a beautiful summer day... APPEARANCE: an all-too-calm orange amber body; thick, nearly two-finger white head dissipates to a rocky, palpable ring; lacing is random soap spots... AROMA: citrus and candy predominate--watermelon and Boardwalk taffy... PALATE: full-bodied wall of bite that sizzles through the teeth; elicits a lasting, mouth-watering Pavlovian response...a bit warm, though for 6.5% ABV... TASTE: strong and clearly pronounced hops here--Cascade for certain, that West Coast varietal--and a nice underpinning of malts when exhaled; a classic IPA taste without too much confusion or interference... OVERALL: of the four choices in the Starr Hill mix pack, this one easily warrants the most return interest, with its style-adherent flavor and its sessionability--just short of outstanding, the beer refreshes and ingratiates with a full-bodied presence...

Photo of damndirtyape
3.78/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, bottled on 04/23/14, served in a tumbler glass.

Appearance: Clear copper-amber. Thin white skin of foam across the top with a thicker ring at the edge. Some persistent strands of lacing.

Smell: Floral with just a hint of tropical fruit.

Taste: Floral and tropical fruits with some notes of grapefruit citrus mixed in with some sweet tea flavors, with the tea flavors coming out a bit stronger at the finish. I'm not digging the sweet tea finish. However, as the beer warmed up the tea flavors get replaced with a bit more pine and stronger grapefruit bitterness at the finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and a little bit creamy even in thickness. Light carbonation. Definite stickiness on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: Mild by most AIPA standards these days, but tasty. Easily drinkable - brings flavor but doesn't pound you over the head with it. Finished quickly and wouldn't mind a larger one, and yet it was best with food. I think because I had a longer meal is why I wouldn't mind another one. Without food I think I might get a little bored with this one. Glad I tried it though.

Photo of hophugger
3.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

nice color, good head. A somewhat local beer for me, I have tried several from this brewery and this so far is my favorite. Nice hoppy bitterness, but not overdone. An above average beer, yet not quite one of the best IPAS I have had. Would definitely drink again and would recommend without hesitation. Good job, Starr Hill !!!!

Photo of moysauce
3.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Beautiful dark copper color - my favorite when it comes to beers. Left about 1 finger of head which dissipated rather quickly and left almost no lacing. Had the lacing been there and maybe a little thicker head, this would have received a 5. The color is just beautiful.

S: Nothing really to write home about here. Definitely a more floral smelling IPA. It's not off-putting, but very average.

T: This is what I would consider an upper-middle class IPA. You get all the bitterness of the hops without your palate taking any damage. At 52 IBUs and 6.5% ABV it is very standard to the American IPA genre. I don't really pick up very much in terms of malty qualities, but if I had to take a stab at it, I'd say I'm picking up some caramel. It;s very subdued, though.

M: Great mouthfeel! Nice and crisp, easy-drinking. Isn't too heavy or really coat your tongue very much, which is my preference. Great carbonation which adds to the crisp, refreshing sensation of this beer. Nice and smooth!

O: Overall, this is a very easy-drinking, refreshing, IPA. There isn't really anything that jumps out at you or grabs your attention, so to speak, but I definitely enjoy it. Pick it up and give it a try if you have a chance!

Photo of godlessape
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA
The body has a light clear amber hue to it topped off with a thin but creamy white head.
The aroma is somewhat floral and grassy, with some sweet fruitiness, finishing off with just a little grapefruit.
As far as taste goes everything seems rather subtle. Nothing jumps out and slaps you on the kisser. The caramel malt is there, as is the expected hop bitterness on the tail end. The balance in this is great.
The Mouthfeel is high in carbonation, with a juicy aftertaste.
Overall this is a decent brew, a solid IPA.

Photo of ThePaintedGrey
3.41/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into pint glass.

A: Pours a rich copper color with a creamy tan head that starts out two-fingers in height after an aggressive pour. Dwindles pretty quickly, leaving an acceptable amount of lacing down the sides. A roughly 1/4" creamy cap retains like a champion.

S: Floral hops with some citrus fruit. Grapefruit dominates the citric aspect with some tangerines floating around. A little bit of grassiness and some bready malts lingering. Aroma is intense, but lacks in complexity. Nothing astounding, but nothing that can be scored too harshly.

T: Those bready malts up front. A little bit of caramel malt maybe? There's a lot of malt presence in the initial sip. Some weak hop bitterness cuts through, but doesn't really do a great job of taking the driver's seat on the flavor bus. A little bit of medicinal-like bitterness in the end that's still overshadowed by the lingering malt presence. None of these flavors are bad, by any means, but they're very disappointing for an IPA.

M: Medium body, maybe slightly above, I'd say. Crisp carbonation. A bit chewy in the mouth, likely due to the strong malt presence. This one feels great and definitely has some session potential. It's overall a bit too chewy and clean in the finish for me though, given the style.

O: I want to clear up that even though my score for this infers mediocrity, that's not particularly the case. Starr Hill's Northern Lights is a quite enjoyable brew. It's flavorful, it's smooth, it's a great grab for sessioning, BUT it's not a good example of what I look for in an IPA, and I scored accordingly. The malt presence is too dominant and the hops, for the most part, take the backseat. Like I said, this brew is enjoyable and sessionable, but not what I look for in an IPA. This would serve better as perhaps an American Amber Ale, perhaps?

Photo of Edward-Nipplebrew
2.82/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice copper color not a bad IPA. Average in taste and quality. Good drinkability. A fine run-of-the-mill IPA nothing wrong but nothing to write home about. Strawberry fields forever. This would be a good choice for novice IPA drinkers as an introduction to get you into trying IPA's.

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Northern Lights IPA from Starr Hill Brewery
81 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.